Too often, we have seen the corporate wellbeing world be a storm in a teacup. ‘Wellbeing Weeks’ or ‘Fruit Friday’s don’t work! If your employees don’t feel valued, a guest speaker once a year and a free basket of fruit here and there, won’t change their productivity or happiness.
Stress is an enigma. we all know it’s there but we can’t always identify it. What does it look like ? Or how is it measured? We are in a data driven age and non measurables tend to be under valued.
In our experience dealing with the corporate wellbeing world, we have noticed that some issues repeatedly become a stumbling block. The ultimate goal is for wellbeing initiatives to actually improve wellbeing ! At the very least there ought to be a reduction in stress levels.
The problem for HR
In our experience, the difficulty for innovative and enthusiastic HR managers is implementation. That’s why initiatives like ‘Fruit Friday’ exists. It’s a gesture that can be achieved. It’s also coming from a very well meaning place.
But in a target driven environment, punctuated by End -of -Quarter stress avalanches, the wellbeing philosophy becomes a distant ideal. The idea that the Sales team might take a 30 minute break for a mindfulness session during the avalanche is outlandish.
Ironically, it might be the perfect time to do it, but let’s face it, it is highly unlikely.
Can Lifestyle change actually reduce stress?
Well in terms of exercise the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend 150 minutes of light exercise per week. This is a non specific recommendation, and indeed slightly less than 150 minutes can suffice if done at a moderate to vigorous intensity. Let’s not focus on the content for now. Let’s simply look at the duration;
- 2 x 30 minute sessions in a week amounts to 1/168th of our week
- A whopping 0.006% of our week !!
Time Management and Lifestyle Change
Can we spare 0.006% of our week to help reduce stress levels ? We all know we can. But we still regularly don’t. Perhaps we are not truly framing the benefits in a relevant way.
It can specifically improve our performance in work.
Neurological benefits are rarely highlighted, but the scientific community have proven that exercise can improve concentration, memory and decision making under pressure! How good is that ?!
Due to the vascular (blood vessels) change that occurs during/post exercise there is an associated change in blood flow inside the brain. Why not tap into this ?
Behavioural Change and Wellbeing
For the HR managers out there it is important to manage your own expectations and the barriers facing your implementation of wellbeing.
0.006% of the week doing exercise is of course achievable for your employees. However It may be time better spent to have a regular check in / reminder to simply encourage employees to adopt new behaviours. Ultimately they have to do the exercise themselves. So, raising awareness about lifestyle benefits can be a powerful message if done in a strategic way. It gently lets your most important resource (your people) know that you value their lives outside of the job, and you value their time while on the job. You don’t have to provide the actual activity for lifestyle change, you just have to constantly encourage the change in behaviour.